Improve Your Process with the 8 Benefits of Automatic Labeling Systems
Has your business grown to a point where your labeling process is getting in the way? The initial cost of making the jump to label automation may be high, but so is the return on investment. Automatic labeling machines aren’t just faster than manual labeling (and even semi-automatic labeling equipment), they reduce costs, increase throughput, improve quality, and make production easier. Learn more about all the benefits of automatic labeling systems.
The most basic automatic labeler should be several times faster than a manual labeling station and at least twice as fast as a semi-automatic system. In the past, employers considered automation when a machine could replace one worker. Even if you don’t need to reduce headcount or increase the speed of your production line, you still get a good return on investment. From there, you can easily scale up production without a labeling bottleneck. However, between increased labor costs, safety issues, and product requirements, you could see a good ROI long before you reach this point.
Human error is perhaps the biggest problem when it comes to labeling. It’s easy to misplace a label when applying or use too little pressure, allowing the label to peel off. It’s easy to get the container orientation wrong, resulting in a label in the wrong spot or wrong direction. Increase the number of labels on a product, and these errors increase exponentially. Need to add expiration dates, barcode labels, or other information to your labels? That’s one more source of potential errors. Checks can be implemented to reduce these errors, but it’s a complicated process. The simplest solution is to remove humans from product labeling entirely.
These mistakes don’t just result in waste. While people need to take breaks or adjust for errors, an automatic labeling system can maintain the same production rate until it needs a new label reel. This keeps the labeling station from becoming a bottleneck and slowing down production. Automatic labelers are also able to track and adjust applications, reducing issues with flagging and skewing. With manual labelers, these adjustments must be made by hand, and the range of adjustments is limited. Switching to automation increases application speed, reduces waste, and improves the appearance of your products.
Lower Labor Demands
If you have a manual or semi-automatic labeling machine, you need to have at least one employee on hand for labeling. When you switch to an automated labeling system, labor is only required to load label reels and check the occasional error. If you have a print-and-apply system, you also need to replace ribbons and print heads, as well as clean the printer. This lets you allocate staff in more valuable areas. It also improves employee satisfaction as applying labels is time-consuming, boring, and repetitive work, which leads to a high turnover rate.
If you want to learn more about the benefits of automatic labeling systems for tackling the labor shortage, get a copy of our latest white paper.
Speaking of repetitive work, hand labeling is a major cause of repetitive motion injuries (RMIs) and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in factories. Your manual labeling station could cause 3-5 ergonomic problems tied directly to workplace injuries.
Tasks that Lead to Workplace Injuries
- Performing the same task repetitively
- Localized pressure on one part of the body
- Working in the same posture for long periods of time
- Exerting excessive force on joints and muscles when loading heavy containers
- Cold temperature exposure in some food production environments
Automation makes work safer for everyone. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, facilities have had to rethink how they distribute their workers. By switching to automatic labeling machines, you can have fewer people on the factory floor, decreasing the chance of infection.
Manual systems are usually fixed or only accommodate a limited range of label sizes. However, automatic systems can be set up for a wide range of label sizes. This lets you use one machine for different configurations with several types and sizes of products. The labeling machine has a color screen HMI. This human-machine interface allows for the operator to make adjustments, monitor, control, and load formats. Along with monitoring and controlling label application, the labeler stores calibration information. That means operators can set up the machine for a label one time, then easily recall those settings when switching back to that product.
Manual and semi-automatic stations are built to handle the most common labeling tasks, like applying wrap-around labels to standard-sized bottles. What if you’re dealing with a challenging labeling problem? We make a range of custom labeling solutions that tackle the most difficult containers. Labeling bulk pails? We have a machine that can handle these heavy containers while preventing skew that plagues long label applications. Need multiple labels on a bottle? Our vertical trunnion roller labeler can be configured for front, back, seal, and neck labels, while our wine bottle applicator handles front, back, and cover labels. This gives you options and accuracy that can’t be achieved any other way, even if your current equipment is used perfectly every time.
More Control for Better Label Placement
With an advanced color screen HMI, the operator has more control over label placement than with manual application. This interface gives the power to the operator to make any adjustments needed, monitor and control quality, and load new formats. Not only do operators have the ability to make adjustments, but they can also quickly switch between saved settings. Label settings are stored internally, so you can bring up different print formats as needed.
Better Construction and Support for Less Downtime
Automatic labeling machines are industrial grade. Every piece is designed and built to last several times as long as commercial components, resulting in trouble-free operation in extreme conditions. Automatic labelers are also backed by industrial-grade support. You don’t need to contact a far away manufacturer for help with your system. Instead, you have a local distributor who can fix your problems and make modifications to fit new manufacturing requirements. Repairs and changes that may take weeks with commercial equipment can be done in a matter of days or sometimes hours.
For example, our automated Print and Apply applicators use print engines from Sato and Zebra. Unlike commercial printers, these high-speed devices are built to be used 24/7 with only occasional maintenance. Since these brands dominate the market, virtually every high-performance printing system uses them (that means service and parts are readily available). If the engine fails, or it doesn’t meet your specific needs, it can be replaced without affecting the rest of the labeler.
Is it Time to Switch to Automatic Labeling?
If you’re looking for a better way to label your containers, contact CTM Labeling Systems. We have local distributors that can help you set up a labeling system that fits your production needs and delivers the look you want for your products. It’s time to reap the benefits of automatic labeling systems.